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Old May 8th, 2003, 09:15 AM   #1
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can't decide on tripod...

i currently own a GL1 and am ready to get a decent tripod. i've been reading many threads on different brands and have narrowed it down to Miller, Sachtler, and Vinten. i plan on getting a new camera next year (probably the XL2 when it comes out), so i need to consider the extra weight for this purchase since this is a long term investment.

the most important feature i'm looking for (besides good price) is super-smooth pan action...the smoothest i can afford. i started out with $800 limit but have already decided that is not enough. if i'm gonna spend this kind of money, i should get something nice.

does the Sachtler DV 4 really support up tp 16 lbs? the B&H website says so and also states "depends on center of gravity"...what does that mean? their catalog says 9.9 lbs. it has limited tilt/pan drag settings (the DV 6 has more settings). i would prefer a mid-level spreader but i think i have to go up to the DV 6 to get that feature..or is it the DV 8...if it's the 8 then that is beyond my budget.

the Miller DS 10 has the mid-level spreader but no adjustable counter balance or tilt/pan drag settings...the price is good for me but will i suffer without those adjustable settings?

the Vinten Vision 3...the bank buster. seems they only come with ground-level spreaders which is a bummer. it has the adjustable settings but is the pan action worth the extra cash?

i want smooth...dare i say it, SEXY-smooth action...i'm talking ooohhhs and ahhhs every time i touch it. can i get this with the lower priced Miller DS 10 or Sachtler DV 4? i guess what i'm asking is will there be that big of a difference?

lastly, should i go with single or dual stage legs. i'm really having a hard time deciding on this.....any help would be great...thanx.

my first post here,

danny
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Old May 8th, 2003, 11:16 AM   #2
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Danny,
You have obviously done your research and distilled some of the essential distinguishing attributes of these tripods.

But you've constructed your query in such a way that its impossible for anyone to really help you. All anyone can do is write about these tripods. You have a GL1 now but are selecting a tripod for an as-yet-nonexistent camera with an unspecified loading characteristics.

If I had to select a tripod/head that would work well with your GL1 and also accommodate, say, an XL1s I would probably select the Miller DS-10.
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Old May 8th, 2003, 11:29 AM   #3
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thanks for the reply ken. i guess i should have simply asked is the pan action on the Vinten Vision 3 worth the extra money over the Miller DS 10 or Sachtler DV 4? will there be that big of a difference? i haven't been able to get my hands on any of these (only checked out Bogen / Manfrotto). i am looking for feedback from anyone who has experience with these models.

thanx again,
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Old May 8th, 2003, 11:51 AM   #4
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<<does the Sachtler DV 4 really support up tp 16 lbs? the B&H website says so and also states "depends on center of gravity"...what does that mean?>>

I'm pretty sure this is referring to the height of the camera: the further away the center of gravity of the camera is to the fulcrum of the head, the more counterbalance tension is required from that head (most noticeable at extreme tilts). Most DV cameras are reasonably low-profile, with the exception of the vertically-oriented one-chippers, but those are all plenty lightweight. You would have to load a whole lot of stuff onto the accessory shoe (shotgun, big ungainly onboard light, that sort of thing) to make a top-heavy DV camera.

Speaking of tilts, this is yet another factor to look at when shopping for a head: how many degrees of tilt does it allow in either direction (sometimes more one direction than the other)? It's good to look into this, because there's quite a bit of variation--a great head can deliver a full 90 degrees straight up or straight down, whereas a cheaper one may only go 60 looking down. In such extreme tilts, a head that offers counterbalance really shines, otherwise you are left muscling the camera in and out of those tilt positions. When checking out a head in person, make sure to tilt all the way through the range with a full load onboard to see if you are happy with how it performs.
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Old May 8th, 2003, 12:42 PM   #5
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Danny,
Building on Charles' remarks...

I own both a Miller DS-10 and Sachtler DV-6. I have no meaningful experience with the Vinten Vision series although its design is a closer match to the Sachtler than the Miller.

Buyers often focus on "smooth pans", but nearly all of the better brands of fluid heads (certainly all that you mentioned) will pan smoothly. But tilt is really the bigger issue, particularly when you're working with a larger camera with an eccentric center of gravity. The head's ability to maintain the correct counter-force to balance the camera is, at least to me, the more important factor.

For example, I principally use the Miller with my GL2. Since the GL2's center of gravity is low and pretty well longitudinally centered the Miller's lack of spring-loaded counterbalance control is a non-issue. The Miller could also handle a basic XL1s setup quite well.

But when my XL1s is fully loaded it gets heavy and the center of gravity moves higher and forward. That's the situation for which I bought the Sachtler DV-6. Its variable, and repeatable, tilt counterbalance control make a world of difference for such a setup. Once balanced, I can easily tilt the camera within nearly a 180 deg range and it will stay put even without locking the position. That means that all force I apply to the pan handle in either direction serves to overcome inertia and head friction, rather than unequal forces being required to tilt up versus down. That's very important, since most head moves are not purely pans or tilts, but combinations of both. If the camera is balanced in both planes your ability to execute such moves accurately is greatly enhanced.

But every selection represents a compromise. The Miller is a better on-the-go tripod (in my opinion), with a good case, mid-level spreader, individual rubber feet (covering the spikes) and a shoulder strap on the legs. The Sachtler DV-6 is, as I noted, a more accurately adjustable head.

Regarding 2-stage -vs- 1-stage legs, it's a toss-up. I pesonally like 2-stage legs. They collapse just a bit smaller and are able to get down lower. Single stage legs might set-up just a bit quicker in certain situation.
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Old May 8th, 2003, 02:29 PM   #6
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Danny,

May I recommend the following (mine)?
http://www.ibsconvention.com/main-si...itzo_g1380.jpg

It is the Gitzo G1380 head. B&H sells the G1380 kit (that includes six springs) for $809 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bh2.sph/...ID=F5405EB4980).

It can support any camera up to 22 pounds with the appropriate counterbalance tilt spring. Admittedly, it's overkill for the likes of a GL1/2, VX2000, DVX100, but who cares. You can use any legs of your choosing that will accomodate a 75mm ball. I happen to use the Gitzo G1325 carbon fiber tripod because that's what I also use for my still photography. It's VERY sturdy, rigid, and light! B&H sells the G1325 for $515. Then all you'll need is the G1422 75mm bowl for $35 and your done.

Now, the reason I recommend this is because of what (and where) you can actually get this true pro "Fluide" head for under $350 -- brand new in the box from an authorized dealer -- as I did.

Henry's Camera in Toronto, Canada (I'm in CT, USA) sells the same Gitzo G1380/0 head (there is only one G1380) for what amounts to $347 USD -- but without the full spring kit. That is the only difference between what Henry's is selling and what B&H is selling! Then all you will need to do is order a new 1kg spring (not 2kg, trust me) directly from Gitzo/Bogen parts in NJ -- (201) 818-9500 -- and order whatever spring(s) you need for about $40 each.

Voila! You have a beautiful, pro-caliber, carbon fiber tripod/head rig for UNDER $1,000!

Believe me. The G1380 is one SWEET head. Tilt is so smooth and buttery, with "dead-stop" precision (not even the slightest hint of "back-creep") that you will want to sleep with it!
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Old May 8th, 2003, 09:36 PM   #7
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I've played with the DS5 and DS10. I thought they were very nice. I've never seen a Vision 3, but a few years ago, DV Magazine gave it top honors. Right now I have a Manfrotto, and I've also played around with their larger heads.
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Old May 8th, 2003, 09:37 PM   #8
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tilt action...damn...never really thought about that much. the times i went to the local camera shop to check out the Bogens (501-503), i only played with the pan action (with no camera on it). they felt great compared to my Velbon 607. i can just imagine what the higher-end heads feel like. that's the problem though....all they have there are Bogens, nothing above the 503 so i don't have anything to compare them with.

brendan, i did read your thread about the Gitzo head and it does sound like a good deal... can you get a mid-level spreader with that rig? i haven't researched that set-up but i'll start when i finish this reply... so i'll want to sleep with it, eh?...

ken and charles, thanx for the wake-up about tilt....

danny
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Old May 9th, 2003, 11:47 AM   #9
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<<<-- brendan, i did read your thread about the Gitzo head and it does sound like a good deal... can you get a mid-level spreader with that rig? i haven't researched that set-up but i'll start when i finish this reply... so i'll want to sleep with it, eh?... -->>>


You can used the head with any tripod that supports a 75mm bowl (or should be able to). Any Bogen/Manfrotto or Gitzo sticks should work.

I use Gitzo's G1325 carbon fiber tripod which does not use a spreader. It's much more flexible without one (The G1325 has a minumum height of only four (4) inches), in my experience, and it's just as stable for anything 20-pounds or less (and any XL1/2 or JVC DV5000 falls into that category).

I'm not a fan of those big, heavy, bulky multi-section monstrosities. We're not talking 100-pound ENG cams here.
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Old May 10th, 2003, 07:33 AM   #10
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I followed Brendan's advice and I'm quite happy with the results. My one caveat is that I didn't get the carbon fiber... for some reason I like the "heavy" rubber feet on the aluminum pods. The rubber pops off and reveals a long stainless steel spike on each foot. Opting for this type of foot means an aluminum pod which weighs about a pound and a half more... the carbon fiber pod is listed as 4.5lbs on bogenphoto.com (manfrotto's site) and the 1345 (the one I bought) is listed as 6lbs... I figured if you add the weight of the rubber/stainless spike feet your looking at a difference of about a pound and a quarter for a little over $200. If you don't care about the feet then the difference is a pound and a half for only $159 more.

I ended up with Gitzo for simplicity, light weight, high capacity, super-low minimum height, good maximum height. The price is pretty good too.

I haven't played with a true-fluid pro head so I expect those are a little smoother then this head... but I think this one's worth a look-see. I'd like to get my hands on a Vinten or Satchler just to feel the difference. Still, I fully expect to have this pod for my entire life... the fact that I got the head/springs/bowl/legs all for the price B&H sells the head alone dint hurt either.

If you were swayed this way I'd be realistic and say it's a matter of function AND price... if cash was no issue for me I'd have gotten a Vinten or Satchler just for the piece of mind that you bought one of the best... but then again there is O'Conner... hmm, see my point? Your money... get the best if you can. Take a look at this option if you can't.
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Old May 10th, 2003, 04:19 PM   #11
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One of the big advantages of the Vinten series is the drag adjustments are continuously variable. This makes adjusting the drag to match cameras with different characteristics much easier. They are also adjustable over a much wider range. The drag adjustments are easily repeatable by setting them to the marks on the drag adjustment knobs.

Mid-level spreaders are indispensable for field work. Ground level spreaders are virtually useless on uneven ground. They are also slow to setup and adjust on uneven ground. Try using a tripod without a spreader on hard, slippery surfaces. Also tripods without spreaders suffer from torsional flexing (the legs flex and twist when you pan).
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Old May 10th, 2003, 04:53 PM   #12
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The Gitzo G1380 drag adjustments are continuously variable as well. It's really quite an exceptional head. I've played with the Bogen 501 and 503, the Vinten "Pro 5" combination, the Sachtler DV-4 and the Miller DS5. I can honestly say that the Gitzo G1380 is noticeably superior to all of them.

As far as the sticks go, the G1380 can handle up to 22 pounds, so any torsional flexing under such light loads, for panning, is a non-concern, especially considering a good $500 carbon fiber tripod like the Gitzo G1325 is so rigid to begin with. For such light cameras I just wasn't willing to deal with the hassle that any spreader introduces, particularly since I'm routinely on very uneven surfaces. Case in point, last night I was knee-deep in a running stream shooting a waterfall at dusk. A spreader would've been unusable for the shot I was making.

I can see for heavier cameras where a spreader is quite applicable, but were talking cameras up to ten or so pounds where quality tripods like the Gitzos can handle them with aplomb.

Of course, I am a newbie and you certainly have much, much more experience than I do -- so I offer my opinion in that vein. If Dale were shooting, or planning on shooting, with an ENG cam or some such animal, then I'd keep my trap shut and well defer to your judgement. But considering he is using a GL1 and may upgrade to the forthcoming XL2 I don't see any advantage in using a system more suitable for much larger, heavier rigs.

Naturally, I could be wrong and routinely am.
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Old May 10th, 2003, 05:31 PM   #13
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Have a look at this thread:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...&threadid=4927
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Old May 10th, 2003, 06:07 PM   #14
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so the Gitzo 1380 is the Bogen 505? is it a modified 505 or did they just slap their name on it? i have been reading the other threads about this head and it does sound nice... i've just read so many other threads about the Miller/Sachtler/Vinten being top choices. this is getting harder to decide. i guess if i had to pick one today it would probably be the Miller DS10 (price is about $1099 @ B&H with case/strap and mid-spreader)....choice is purely on the opinions that i've read and price is lower than the others (except the Gitzo).

i'm glad that i'm getting feedback on this... PLEASE keep it coming...it's all i have to go on. i'm gonna call Precision Camera here in austin and ask if they have a 505 or can get one since the majority of their stuff is Bogen (never seen anything above the 503 the 4 or 5 times i've been there). that's my main problem...if only there was a store here that had all these tripods side by side...

danny
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Old May 10th, 2003, 06:19 PM   #15
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The Gitzo is not a true fluid head (to the best of my knowledge). It is what I like to term a fluid effect head, because it uses friction, not fluid to achieve it's smoothness. The problem with friction heads is they wear, and are not temperature stable. Over time the head will require more and more tension or friction to achieve the same result. The results will also vary, depending on the temperature. They can also be more easily damaged by panning or tilting the head with the locks on. It's not good on any tripod, but worse on friction heads.

If you look closely the Gitzo head is nearly identical to one of the Bogen heads (also friction). Manfrotto is now cross branding several of their models.
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